An International Cricket Council’s (ICC) survey on Wednesday revealed that 87 per cent of global fans want the inclusion of T20 cricket in the Olympics even as the sport’s world governing body claimed that the gentleman’s game has over one billion fans across the globe.
The survey, carried out in the 12 Full Member countries, and China and the United States — the latter two because they’ve been identified as non-traditional markets with huge potential for growth, showed T20I as the most popular format with 92 per cent interest whilst ODIs are close with 88 per cent interest.
“It is the first global market research project ever undertaken in the sport and having more than one billion fans in the surveyed age category of 16-69 alone, with an average age of 34, is undoubtedly an exciting and strong position from which we can drive the sport forward,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said in a statement.
“There are opportunities to grow in both our traditional markets, where the focus will be on attracting more women and girls, children and families, to the game, as well as non-traditional cricket playing nations where there is clearly both interest and opportunity.
“A global growth strategy for cricket is currently being developed and this research is a significant cornerstone of that, guiding our decision making and providing us with a benchmark to measure progress as we look to drive long-term growth of the game,” he added.
The research also identified more than 300 million active participants over the age of 16, ranging from occasional social players to the elite level, this number is likely to grow significantly if under 16s are counted.
These participants highlighted the fun and sociability of the sport as well as the health benefits.
The breakdown of cricket’s three different formats in the research showed two-thirds of fans over the age of 16 who were interviewed are interested in all three international formats of the game.
Close to 70 percent fans are interested in Test cricket with fans in England and Wales showing the strongest interest in this format (86 percent), South Africa lead the interest in ODI cricket (91) and Pakistan in T20I cricket (98).
It also revealed that the 50-over World Cup and the World T20 are more popular tournaments than the bilateral series and domestic T20 leagues with 95 per cent fans expressing interest in the major ICC tourneys.